Navigation bar
  Print document Start Previous page
 55 of 131 
Next page End  

What’s stopping more diversity on the airwaves?
you’re with a Paki People won’t buy it because it’s got Black people
on the front cover. - Actor
Producers of programmes that have demonstrated the universal appeal that
broadcasters seek are bemused by the lack of publicity their programmes are
Of course, whenever they did a presentation about the values of the
BBC we were top of the list we were, Goodness Gracious Me, they
would all trumpet us to the heavens, but when it came to actually
putting money behind publicity, they weren’t that interested. They
did trail it, the first series, and it did well, but it was a real uphill
struggle to get them to push it and I could never work it out. For
example, I was keen that for series three we should be on the cover
of Radio Times. This show which had won loads of awards, it was
ground breaking but the publicity people said We would never dream
of asking for the cover. And we spoke to the Radio Times and said
Would you put us on? They said no. The bottom line is that they
won’t put brown faces on the covers of magazines because they
don’t sell, that is my personal theory. - Producer 
Who makes it to the cover of Radio Times is a topic that several of my
interviewees raised, so I was interested to read the following interview in The
Guardian newspaper quoting the editor of the Radio Times, Gill Hudson:
What’s great is there’s still an understanding that if you haven’t
made the front cover of the Radio Times, you haven’t quite arrived. I
get petitions to get on the cover. You don’t hold onto that currency
unless people believe what you do is good.
In the past year there has not been a single non-White person who was deemed
sufficiently “good” to warrant a Radio Times cover on their own. The Guardian
interviewer probed Ms Hudson on her decision making process:
So how do you get an RT cover? Try getting to know Hudson’s
family. “One thing I often do when choosing covers is to stand back
and say Does my brother know who that is? Will my mother care?”
Stars are made by this sort of decision. It is not simply a matter of people having
sufficient talent; it’s the value the broadcasting organisation attaches to them by
promoting them. It was pointed out that Michael Palin was on two Radio Times
covers in the past year for his travelogue Himalaya and for a single documentary
about a little-known Danish artist. But Meera Syal, who attracted big audiences
with a major BBC1 drama series Life isn’t all ha ha hee hee, the comedy series
The Kumars at No.42 which transferred to BBC1 this year, and also the BBC2
drama The secretary who stole a million has not earned a single place on a Radio
Times cover this year. 
The whole process of programme-making from commissioning and production to
scheduling and publicity is based on numerous judgements about which people
and stories merit a place on the national stage. At present these subjective
decisions are made by a largely homogenous group of gatekeepers who do not
reflect the diversity of modern Britain and rarely seem to move beyond what
appeals to their own personal tastes.